I’m Your Friendly Neighborhood Feminist™ that my friends seek when they want to know more about a specific issue – and I’m pretty sure my friends can now use the word heteronoromativity in a sentence because of me. I do not shy away from the word or most things associated with it.
But for some of us, mainstream feminism by itself is not enough. The intersections of my race and gender are very important to my method of theory and practice within community service, which I’m very passionate about. Though mainstream feminism has become more inclusive and intersectional with each wave, there is still some resistance to embrace the varying values and needs of the numerous groups and identities feminism is supposed to advocate for. And so I get it when women, especially black women, reject the feminist label. These oppressive and exclusive goals of mainstream feminist movements leave the rest of us behind.
Again, we can see that mainstream feminism has a narrow scope of who is worth championing for.
The term womanism was coined by the illustrious Alice Walker (author of one of my favorite books The Color Purple) as a way to prioritize black womens’ experiences when developing a framework for theory and activism.
It is an opportunity to define ourselves, and not be defined by the experiences of white feminists (mostly as an afterthought, anyway).
Black women are unsupported and drowning, and womanism is a safe haven.
And that’s the thing: Womanism is just for black women.
They’re too busy catching felony drug charges and spending a ludicrous amount of time in prison, and afterwards being further shut out society because felons can’t vote and are obligated to check that discriminatory box on resumes. We tell male legislators to stay the hell out of our vaginas but a) we ignore that some men, gender queer, agender, and gender non-binary people have vaginas, and that b) the lack of reproductive rights disproportionately affects the working class and people who already have children.